Roy Moore’s bid for the United States Senate for Alabama has created a firestorm of controversy on both sides of the political isle. Over at The Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro makes some interesting observations about the Democrat and Republican responses to the scandal that are useful for contextualizing the issue. Additionally, I believe the political issues surrounding Roy Moore points to a deeper problem in American culture that the rash of sexual allegations throughout media and politics are finally bringing to the fore.
In a nut shell, Shapiro implies that Republican’s are shifting from a trustee model of representation to a delegate model. The relevance of the models becomes evident when you understand that in a delegate model, any degree of character-based qualifications for a position disappear. As Shapiro jokingly illustrates, “…you can have a dog trained to push a button and as long as the right button is pushed, you don’t care who is doing the pushing.” In terms of the current scandal, Roy Moore can be a sexual deviant and it doesn’t matter because he isn’t a Democrat.
Alternatively, a trustee model of representation demands a certain degree of character qualifications. As Edmund Burke claims regarding the responsibility of a representative,
“But his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”
So we find ourselves in a peculiar position. One one hand, since 1992 in particular, Republican constituents have (generally) continually advocated for high moral character in their representatives. Those representatives were assumed to have not only the best interest of their constituents in mind, but also the best interests of the country. On the other hand, Democrat constituents have dealt with over two decades of denial surrounding the behavior of Bill Clinton, justifying that denial because President Clinton was ‘their guy’. The outcome? A media circus, payout, and seemingly no justice.
If decades of attempts by Republicans to hold representatives to high moral standards have fallen on deaf ears (either the ears of Congress or the citizenry themselves), is it a surprise that Republicans are now seen as lowering the bar?
All of this brings me to the question of whether character matters anymore in our political representatives? Is this not the very question that voters, particularly so-called evangelicals, asked themselves during the 2016 election concerning Donald Trump? To paraphrase, “Well, yeah he is indeed a deplorable person, but at least he will vote the right way…advance the right policy agenda…deny the other person from advancing theirs…”.
If character matters less than policy or party, how might we as free-thinkers compete against feelings? Lets face it, the delay of gratification and sacrifice typically associated with conservatism (and successful people) is just downright tedious when contrasted with the free-living, devil-may-care policies most leftists espouse. If character doesn’t matter, then only power and personality does. Basing our representation decisions on power and personality hasn’t exactly gone very well for…oh…the entire course of human history.
The explosion of sexual misconduct stories, and scandal surrounding Roy Moore specifically, has exposed a crisis of conscious within the very top levels of society in this country. It has been there a long time, and from all appearances, both party and church are growing tired of fighting against it.
Pray for our representatives, our country, and our populace…lets keep up the fight and set some standards our children will be proud to uphold and aspire toward.